Camping in Korea - Namhae Island

Camping On Namhae Island, Korea. Camping on the beach in Korea

Four weekends of camping in a row, I didn't know I had it in me! We spent 2 weeks in Jinan at Yongdam (click here to find about more about this dog friendly camp site), a long weekend in Gangwon Province (click here) and then this, our last camping spot on a secluded beach on Namhae Island, on the Southern Coast of South Korea. 

Namhae is an island off Korea that you can reach without a ferry, something that is quite important to bear in mind if your are traveling over a long weekend and haven't booked ferry tickets in advance. It only took us 2 hours to get to from our home in Buan (a small town near the South West coast of Korea). Namhae Island has quite a lot of interesting attractions (which we did our best to avoid due to the large crowds) like the German Village; an odd settlement of houses along the coast built to welcome home the Korean families (and their German spouses) who had moved to Germany in search of work in the 1960's. 

Namhae is also very famous for it's rice terraces (although rice is farmed all over Korea it seems that Namhae is one of the few places that farms on terraces) and these terraces made an interesting contrast to the ocean views. The canola (or Rape Seed as it is called here in Korea) fields were still out in full bloom and also made for a pretty photo stop on our drive around the island.

I can't tell you exactly where we ended up camping, but i can say that it took us nearly 4 hours to find. We ended up driving up a tiny forest road, parking at the top of a very steep hill and then having to bundu (bush) bash through a forest and along a path that had not been used in years to get to this gorgeous stretch of quiet beach. We were alone, apart from a few early morning fisherman and hikers and had the beach to ourselves the entire time. 

Food is always a challenge with camping, unless you are able to bring along a fridge (something we would never be able to fit in our little red Matiz) and so one has to do quite a bit of planning. We only ended up camping on Namhae for one night (although we had planned for two).

Here is the menu we planned and prepared for:


  • Breakfast: coffee/tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: bologniase mince wraps with salad
  • Snacks: store bought popcorn 
  • Dinner: pre-cooked sausages/vienna sausages, sweet potatoes fire roasted with garlic & spices
  • Dessert: s'mores (& wine!)

Day 2

  • Breakfast: coffee, tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: tuna wraps with salad
  • Dinner: Left over mince, sweet potatoes and sausages
  • Dessert: s'mores (& wine!)

We spent the weekend on Namhae Island over Buddha's Birthday, one of the many long weekends here in Korea but what we hadn't realised is that it was also the famous Namhae Beef & Garlic festival. As we drive around the island we were greeted wit the warm smiles of of garlic farmers going about the business, reaping (is that even the right word?? must ask farmer husband) garlic. I have never seen so much garlic in all my life. We also managed to buy a small bunch/pocket/posie??? of garlic from a gaggle of adjumma's on the side of the road. They were full of smiles as we we drove away with our prized garlic in tow. 

The first picture below is of the famous Silver Sands beach, which we avoided at all costs as it seemed like the whole of Korea had gathered to camp there. We prefer to stay away from all the noise and chaos of the traditional camp grounds here in Korea and were so happy to finally find our secret spot after many hours of driving and searching. 

You can technically camp anywhere in Korea, as long as you clean up after yourself. We have on occasion when we have been able to find a land owner, asked permission to camp and have so far been greeted with a warm welcome (even with our pup!). 

Have you been camping here in Korea? Do you have any recommendations of places to stay? Please leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Camping in Korea - Hwacheon, Gangwon Province

Camping in Korea, Hwacheon Gangwon-do, RIver bed camping in Korea

After a very successful camping trip with our pooch to Yongdam (click here to read more about this dog friendly camp site near Jinan) Farmboy and I, #ShadowTheJindo & our fellow SA friend and blogger Jenna (who blogs over at Komodoness) set off in search of adventure in Gangwon-do. It was a rather long, 8 hour drive to get there and so we broke up the trip with our first stop on a random gold course near Wonju. We left on the thursday after school and arrived at 10pm, and so we just set up camp in a very random place. It has been our experience that you can camp anywhere in Korea (we have camped on abandoned tennis courts, closed off roads and museum gardens) as long as you clean up after yourself. We did feel rather nervous about the golf course though, as it seemed very fancy, needless to say we packed up at first light and beetled out of Wonju and further up north to Hwacheon in search of a better site for the next 2 nights.

Before we set out we had looked on google and Naver maps and had found a load of great looking camp sites. We drove to a lot of them but didn't stay at them as they were very much the Korean set up on either gravel roads, or with tents right ontop of each other. We had something very particular in mind; a river/stream, shade and a whole lot of nothing else. After another 5 ours of driving we finally came across a stream and river bed with a very friendly looking farmer overlooking his crops. As it looked like he was the closest authority in the area, Farmboy used his Korean skills and asked the farmer is it was okay to camp on his stretch of the river. He was so friendly! With a big smile we told us that we could camp there for as long we wanted to. I wish I had gotten a photograph of him (note to self...take more photographs of the delightful people we encounter along our travels).

Bear in mind when looking for a camping spot, those neglected gravel roads are usually where the best spots are. Don't be afraid to go off-road a little. Our car has done some serious off-roading and hasn't failed us yet! 

Camping is never complete without a roaring fire. Luckily I married a farm boy who knows exactly how to make the perfect fire.

And then there's the food. Camping for 1 day is easy, but when you camp for 2 or more days there's lots to prepare and of course you have to figure out a way to keep everything cool. For this trip, we went to our local Baskins & Robbins ice cream shop and asked very nicely if we could buy some dry ice (our town is so small we know the manager by name and he was very kind to give us a huge chunk free of charge). The dry ice kept everything cold for 3 and a half days!

We are still working on the perfect menu, but here is a rough idea for 3.5 days worth of meals, from the thursday night dinner (it was a long weekend and we had dinner at one of the rest stops along the way) to the Sunday afternoon:

Day 1

  • Breakfast: homemade granola bars, coffee, tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: tuna wraps with salad
  • Snacks: store bought popcorn
  • Dinner: pre-cooked sausages/viennas, samgyupsal cooked on the fire with a grill plate with kimchi, garlic, lettuce & onion
  • Dessert: s'mores!

Day 2

  • Breakfast: homemade granola bars, coffee, tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: pre-cooked bolognaise wraps with salad
  • Dinner: pre-cooked sausages and fire roasted sweet potatoes
  • Dessert: S'mores!

Day 3

  • Breakfast: coffee, tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: left over Bolognaise mince, wraps & salad

If you make it all the way up to Gangwon Province, the east coast isn't too far a drive for the day and is incredible beautiful. The ocean at Gangneung was incredible blue, and the sand was like powder. It was still a rather windy day with a quite a cold breeze as summer has yet to hit Korea, but it was a great way to spend a few hours.

Can you recommend any great places to camp in Korea? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Camping in Korea - Yongdam, Jinan 섬바위캠핑장

Camping in Korea - Yongdam, Jinan 섬바위캠핑장

If you have a car here in Korea then camping is super easy and a wonderful way to spend the weekend. Even if you don't have a car, you can easily get to most camping spots by bus or train and if you have an International Drivers license you can easily and rather cheaply hire a car too! 

Camping is a very affordable way to spend the weekend, and the cost of your camping gear is easily covered by your first or second trip when you compare it to the cost of staying in a motel. Also, as we have a large dog, and so camping means we don't have to worry about him when it comes to finding places to stay here. Korea is not very dog friendly, and it is near impossible to find places to stay that allow dogs (especially bigger ones) and so camping makes life easier. And it's far more fun!

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Camping on Wido Island

Camping on Wido Island

Just before the full force of summer hit, a group of us went camping on Wido Island. Wido is on the west coast of Korea, accessible only by ferry from Gyeokpo. We often visit the beach near Gyeokpo, and the ferry is easy enough to access from the port.

There is a shuttle bus that rides around the island, but as the island is very small, the bus route and times are very unpredictable. We went by car (we took our car along with us on the ferry) and were a lot more flexible with finding a good camping spot. From what I have read about camping in Korea, you seem to be able to camp anywhere, as long as you respect the area and clean up after yourself. 

We spent a good 45 mins driving around Wido looking for the perfect spot, and finally found this little bay, tucked away from the main road and only accessible by a small path through over grown bushes.

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Hiking the Jagged Peaks Trail & Camping on Saryang Island


At the change of the season, Farmboy and I, along with a bunch of friends decided to head to Saryang Island to hike the Jagged Peaks trail. We didn't know much about the hike, but we did know that summer was approaching and soon we would be unable to walk a few metres without being out of breath from the humidity. So we decided to make hay while the sun was shining and packed our camping gear for the long weekend in April. 

Saryang-do ("do" means Island in Korean) is a small island just off the coast from Tongyeong. Farmboy and I were testing out Cherry (our beat up but-still-going-strong red car that we had recently bought) and drove from Buan to Tongyeong in about 4 hours. Saryang-do is the red dot on the map below:


From Tongyeong, you have to catch a small ferry to Saryang-do (be warned, there are 3 ferry terminals in Tongyeong) and the first ferry for the island was at 7am. We stayed at a jimjilbang (possibly the worst idea we could have had) but it was cheap and did mean we were relatively close to the ferry terminal. The quickest ferry leaves from Saryangdo Passenger Boat Terminal (사량도여객선터미널)  at Gauchi Harbour 가우치항, 15km north west of Tongyeong city centre so budget your time accordingly! We missed the first ferry but were able to make second one.

The ferry from Gauchi Harbour leaves at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm and takes 45mins to an hour. Tickets were W5 500 per person and around W11 000 for our small car each way. 

Thanks to here is some information on the bus route to get to Gauchi Harbour from Tongyeong city centre:

"Bus 607 runs from Lotte Mart in Tongyeong out to Gauchi Harbour.
Buses leave Lotte Mart at 6am, 8:05, 10:05, 12:05, 14:00, 16:00 and take 45-50mins. 
Bus 607 starts its route at Seoho Market 20mins earlier, with the exception of the 6am bus, which starts at Lotte" KoreanTrails.

The hike itself wasn't particularly challenging, but there were some very steep parts where we all had to scramble on our bums, or hang on for dear life while descending stair cases. You are making your way across actual jagged cliff peaks so even though the distance doens't seem that much (about 7km from east to west) it is pretty slow going for most of the way. It was a good 4 -5 hour hike but the views from the top were incredible. 

We were also very lucky with the weather, and had clear blue skies the entire way. 

The hike itself is designed to end at the ferry terminal, so you have a few options. Either catch a shuttle bus (which may or may not be running at the time) to the main start of the hike,  grab a taxi bus (we ended up doing this and it cost us W20 000 which we split between the 5 of us) or you can walk to the start which is a fairly long distance. You can also choose to do the hike backwards but I think the last thing you will want to be doing one you finish the hike will be walking along the main road to the terminal. 

The shuttle bus leaves the harbour 7 times a day running around the island. In the morning it runs clockwise at 6:50am, 7:45, 9:45 and 11:45. In the afternoon it goes counter-clockwise at 1:45, 3:45 and 5:35. The afternoon buses leave Donji at the far west of the island, bound for the harbour at 2:10, 4:10 and 6:10. 

We had packed camping gear and made our way to a quiet beach area. The Korean families were all jam-packed in the car park, as they tend do do (Korean style camping is VERY different from South African style camping). We managed to scramble up a small hill behind the main campsite onto a patch of land (it seemed to be private but the owner didn't bother us and we made sure to clean up everything after our stay) and had the most amazing views from the doors of our tents.

It was one of the best hikes I've done in Korea so far!